Tag Archives: Animation

Character Animator tips

Some of you may have started playing around with Adobe’s new creation, Character Animator. If not, I’d suggest you check it out – it makes character animation a breeze.

However, if you’ve tried creating your own characters, you have may run into problems getting them to animate how you’d want. Here are some handy tips on getting it right:

Dragging limbs skews the whole character

If you’ve got this problem, you’ve probably got the wrong ‘mesh shape’ for your character. You will almost always want a ‘contour’ mesh shape, but Character Animator (by default) tries to detect whether it should use a rectangular mesh for your character’s ‘rubber sheet’, or a mesh which hugs the contours of you character.

See the images below for how to fix this:
characteranimator2characteranimator3Limbs do not move like they have a bone structure

If you’ve added ‘mousetrack/draggable left/right hand’ anchors, but the characters arms are more like that of an octopus than a human, then you need to add some elbow and shoulder anchors:

characteranimator4

The feet move slightly when you tilt your head

Although the rest of the character may be set up correctly, you’ll probably want to ensure that your character’s feet stay firmly on the ground – at least while you are simply moving the head/arms. You can fix this easily from with Character Animator, by adding a couple of ‘fixed’ pins into each foot (and ideally ankle too):

characteranimator1

Hopefully, that’ll help you solve some of the most common problems encountered in Character Animator. If there’s something specific you think I should tackle, let me know…

David Beckham Academy

Adobe Site of the Day winner, FWA winner and Creative Showcase runner-up.

I was asked by Tribal / DDB London to create this games site, for a joint campaign between The David Beckham Academy and Volkswagen.

Play the games

I used filmed action of Beckham himself and the video alpha channel support of Flash 8, which was rather new at the time. I was consulted on all aspects of filming and production. After we agreed game concepts, I met with the film crew at ‘Off The Radar’; I drew up the shot-list and we decided to shoot on HD at 50p, to get the cleanest possible key.

Tech used

  • Green screen at Flash Studio Norte, Madrid
  • Panasonic VariCam (1080p @ 50fps)
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Flash
  • A football

dba-green1dba20I went to Madrid for the green screen shoot with Beckham as visual effects supervisor and was responsible for treating and editing the footage for game production and related media.

I stitched some of the sequences together with morphs to create almost seamless blends dba-kick01between shots and added real-time lighting filters to the footage to help with the in-game compositing.

I coded a 3-D projection system in Flash and perspective-matched each scene, so that objects move around the screen convincingly. I worked with the designers at DDB, who created the backgrounds and UI elements. I included ‘Express Install’ capability for those users without Flash Player 8, so 95% users could upgrade painlessly from Flash Player 6 or 7. All the games are mouse-controlled and were user tested with children for usability and game balancing.

A high-score table was included and the users with the highest scores were entered into a prize draw to win a training day at the academy with David Beckham. While modern video games only ever motion-capture players and recreate them as 3-D models, the DBA games site still remains a one-of-a-kind.

Lurpak Breakfast – how it was done

I thought I’d give a quick insight into how the animation effects in one of my projects were acheived.

Scott Bedford, former Creative Director at Carlson Marketing, posted this video of a project we worked on a while back, for the Lurpak Breakfast campaign. I created all the animation prototypes for the various effects used throughout the site, some of which can be seen here. The site won two DMA awards, but I’m most proud of the crumbs animation and the code-generated interactive steam effect – similar to the one you’ll see on my homepage.

Continue reading Lurpak Breakfast – how it was done

A History of the World

I just finished a new project, called ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects‘, it’s a joint venture between BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum to chart human history in a new way. I developed the concept for the 3-D object explorer with the guys at GT/VML and built it using Flash 10’s native 3-D capabilities. Users are able to explorer objects from throughout human history in a potentially inifitely expanding 3-D time tunnel and even make history by uploading their own objects.

Here’s some footage of the 3-D explorer:

The main challenge facing the development of the 3-D explorer was to build something capable of handling up to 10,000 objects, loading in their images and displaying it all in glorious 3-D… all without crashing the user’s browser. Every object or filter set accessible within the explorer can be bookmarked, shared, or navigated with the browser back/forward buttons. For added accessibility, the explorer’s 3-D view itself can be navigated with the keyboard, mouse wheel or the on-screen controls.

I built the application strictly to optimise performance and memory management, while ensuring maximum stability. Coding techniques such as object pooling, typed arrays, load queueing, render deferral and the flyweight design pattern were used to maximise performance and minimise memory usage.